« AnteriorContinuar »
confidence destroyed, I quitted a situatio in which I found I could not remain eithe with honour or safety." Burke declare himself actuated by the same motives, an determined by the same reasons as Mr. Fo to retire from the Ministry. He made very able and brilliant speech, full of wi satire, and argument, against the Prim Minister; contending that his conduct ha been a composition of hypocrisy and ab surdity. Although many might blam Burke and Fox for withdrawing thei powers from Administration, merely be cause they had been thwarted in some mea sures, and in one appointment, when th country so much wanted the services of it greatest men, yet no one can charge them with artifice or duplicity; what they did they did boldly and avowedly.
However much several members disapproved of certain parts of the King's speech considering unanimity as necessary at sc critical a juncture, no one proposed ar amendment. When the conclusion of peace
was announced to Parliament, the terms on which it had been made excited great disapprobation, both from Burke, Fox, and their friends; and from Lord North and his friends. Pitt, with the assistance of hardly any very able man but Dundas, had, in the House of Commons, to cope with the combined strength of the North and Fox partics. The Ministerial speakers defended the peace as the best that could be attained in the circumstances of the country. The coalesced opponents maintained that our resources were still in a flourishing state, and that the army and navy were in the best condition, and could easily stand the brunt of another campaign. This favourable view of our situation was certainly much more consistently exhibited by Lord North, Mr. Courtenay, Mr. Adam, and Lord Mulgrave, who had uniformly maintained that our army and navy were in a vigorous state, than by Burke, Fox, and Sheridan, who had as uniformly maintained that they were in an exhausted state during many years, when the national finances had certainly not been so much drained, nor so many of its
troops consumed as at that time. Burke and Fox could not justly alledge that the state of our finances and forces was much meliorated during their short Administration. They had repeatedly asserted that peace on any terms was adviseable to Britain, when in a much less exhausted situation. They had offered peace to Holland; they had proposed unconditionally to recognize the independence of America; they had shewn themselves anxious to attain what they so often said was necessary to the salvation of Britain on any terins. Their disapprobation, therefore, of peace we may, without any deviation from candour, conclude to have arisen fully as much from party opposition as from a conviction of its inexpediency.
The ministerial speakers, after defending the main object, attacked the coalition. They contended, that an union between men of so heterogeneous principles as those which Burke and Fox, on the one hand, and Lord North, on the other, had always professed
to entertain, must be from some different reason than mutual agreement of political idea. The combined parties procured a majority in the house, and passed a vote of censure on the Ministry. The coalition was bitterly inveighed against both in and out of Parliament. Though prevalent in both houses, it was on the whole unpopular. To arraign an union of men once opposite or even inimical to each other, without considering the object of the combination, or the conduct of, its members in their combined capacity, would be the result of prejudice, not of judgment. A change of circumstances often renders it just to deviate from that plan of political conduct which it was once right to pursue, and to act with those men whom it was once right to oppose. The abuse thrown out against Burke and the other coalesced leaders, merely because they had coalesced, after much mutual obloquy, was the abuse of ignorant declaimers, not of impartial, informed, and able reasoners. Very able, well informed reasoners, no doubt, did very severely blame the coalition; ME
but that blame must have proceeded from either a discovery of their object, or an anticipation of their conduct, and not from the mere fact of their union.
The coalition is now known to have first been projected by Mr. Burke. There was less inconsistency in that gentleman and his. friends, the Duke of Portland and Earl Fitzwilliam, coalescing with Lord North, than in Mr. Fox. Though the other leaders of the Rockingham party disagreed with Lord North on the subject of the American war, they entertained a very high opinion of his talents and integrity. Mr. Burke, in particular, as we have seen, declared him to be one of the ablest and best men he ever knew; and Lord North entertained a still higher opinion of Mr. Burke. Between men so affected to each other, previous dif
*Soon after the separation of Burke and Fox, their joint and several measures underwent a discussion at the Duke of Portland's, and it was ascertained that the coalition originated with Burke. I did not know that fact when I wrote the first edition.
1 First projected by Me Even (afte
and Auckland 2 carried this